How To Revive Dying Hydrangea Plant

Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Stephanie

To revive your hydrangea, you must first consider what is causing it to die. Some examples of causes and ways to fix your hydrangea:

  • Roots Restricted in Pot, Waterlogged, Transplant Shock: Root rot can cause hydrangeas to die if the base is not drained. Pots that are too small can dry out too fast and limit root growth. To revive hydrangeas, water them well with mulch or compost. Hydrangeas will recover best if they are transplanted to an area with better drainage.
  • Lack of Water: drought or underwatering is one of the main reasons hydrangeas die. Make sure the soil is moist so the plant may thrive.
  • Impacted by Weather: To promote healthy growth, remove any sun-burnt or frost-damaged growth. Mulch or compost will also protect the hydrangeas from the sun and wind. 
  • Over fertilized: Too much fertilizer can cause hydrangea to rot, which can lead to it turning brown and drooping. Hydrangeas can often flower and grow well if you plant them in good soil.

Your Hydrangea is Dying in Too Small a Pot

When growing hydrangeas in pots, choose a pot that is at least 16 inches across (with good drainage).

Hydrangeas grown in small pots can dry out too quickly, which can lead to drought.

Small pots heat quickly in the sun, have less soil capacity, and retain less moisture. This can lead to drought.

Large pots are possible for hydrangeas to grow. Pots should not be too large to prevent roots from becoming stuck in the pot. This will ensure that roots have enough room to absorb all nutrients and moisture.

If your hydrangea is planted in a relatively small pot, then transplant it to a larger pot of at least 16 inches across to help it recover.

It is better to transplant hydrangeas to different pots in Spring or Fall than in Summer. This helps to reduce transplant shock and the risk of drought.

Keep the soil moist following repotting. For a few weeks, protect the hydrangeas from direct sunlight to allow them to establish without having to deal with the drying effects of the sun.

Dying Hydrangea has Root Rot From Pot or Boggy Soil

The appearance of wilted leaves, such as browning or yellowing leaves, is a symptom of root rot. Dark-colored roots with a soft texture also indicate root rot.

This can be caused by slow draining soils, such as clay and pots with poor drainage.

Hydrangeas need moist soil that drains well. They cannot tolerate soil that is too saturated. If the soil is boggy, then this leads to root rot.

Hydrangeas need soil that is moist but well-draining. This characteristic is found in compost, well-rotted organic matter from garden scrap or loam soil.

If your soil is clay or naturally boggy, it will likely drain too slowly for hydrangeas. Roots can also suffer from a fungal disease like root rot.

This can also happen if hydrangeas have been planted in pots that do not have drainage holes.

This promotes fungal diseases such as root rot, which causes the hydrangeas to droop with yellow or brown leaves and eventually die.

How to Revive a Hydrangea Dying From Root Rot

It can be difficult to save hydrangeas that have been in saturated soil for long periods of time. If the plant is experiencing extensive root rot, you might need to purchase a new hydrangea and place it in more favorable soil. However, hydrangeas that have been in damp soil for only a short time or whose soil drains slowly may be considered water stressed. In these cases, it is possible to save them.

If the ground is muddy, carefully remove the hydrangea and use a fork to inspect the roots. If the roots are soft, dark, or have a soft appearance, you can trim them back to healthy growth using a pair of sterilized pruners. To prevent fungus from spreading to healthy roots, wipe the blades with a disinfectant-soaked cloth after each cut. Replant the Hydrangea in a pot that drains well or in another garden border with better drainage. Replant your Hydrangea by amending the soil with lots of compost.

Dont replant your hydrangea in the exact same spot as before. The soil could have the fungus that caused your hydrangeas to die. To kill the fungus, treat the soil with an organic pesticide. The soil should eventually be safe for planting other plants.


Transplant Shock Can Cause a Hydrangea to Die

Transplant shock is caused by a difference in the growing conditions in your garden and the garden center. Hydrangeas can die if they are planted in summer with intense sunlight and high temperatures. Your hydrangea is turning brown, wilting, and dying after planting indicates transplant shock.

Hydrangeas can be established and are usually resilient, but they are more susceptible to death during their first season.

This could be because they are adapting to their new circumstances.

Transplant shock is more severe when the growing conditions where the plant was grown (in the nursery or while on display at the garden center) are different from the conditions in your garden.

If the hydrangea was carefully grown in a nursery greenhouse with the ideal temperature, nutrients, and water protection from the sun, it will be more resilient to the elements. These conditions can make the hydrangea more accustomed to outdoor plantings, making it less resilient.

It can also prove problematic to plant hydrangeas in the peak of Summer.

The best time to plant hydrangeas is in the Spring or Fall, as this gives the hydrangea time for its roots to establish and adapt to the soil, so it can draw up moisture effectively before the intense heat of summer.

In Summer, the higher temperatures can dry out the hydrangea so that the roots cannot draw up water at the same rate that water is lost through the large abundant leaves, causing the hydrangea to wilt and turn brown.

Related: Why Your Hydrangea Is Turning Brown

How to Revive a Hydrangea Newly Planted But Dying  

The best times to plant hydrangeas are Spring and Fall. It is important to coordinate your plant purchases so it is at the right time. However, if your newly planted hydrangea struggles with the heat of summer, you can shade it (maybe with an umbrella) and water the soil thoroughly every so often to keep it moist. Apply a 1-inch thick layer of mulch (compost, leaf mold) to conserve moisture.

Reviving a hydrangea in transplant shock is possible by providing the ideal growing conditions and waiting for it to adapt to the new environment.

Hydrangeas require lots of good compost when planting for optimal soil structure, moisture, and nutrients. To prevent the hydrangeas from becoming too dry, shade them from the sun. Hydrangeas need to be watered frequently.

Make sure your hydrangeas are planted in the right soil.

Hydrangeas can die after being planted in too sandy soil (drains too fast and is low in nutrients) and in too clay soil (drains too slowly and may bake hard in summer, making it difficult for roots to establish).

In gardens with poor soil conditions, it is important that you amend as much of your garden as possible (at least twice as large as the root ball) before planting your Hydrangeas to ensure the best soil characteristics.

Multipurpose compost and leaf mold are great ways to amend the soil for growing Hydrangeas. Applying a mulch each year will help to improve the soils nutrient content, allowing your hydrangeas to thrive.

Hydrangea Dooping Due to Drought 

Too little water, soil drying too fast without retaining moisture, and tree roots competing with the Hydrangea for water can cause drooping. Your Hydrangea leaves and flowers will wilt or fall apart. Leaves will possibly turn brown, and possibly foliage growth with few flowers.

Hydrangeas require consistently moist soil to thrive. They have a fibrous root system with relatively shallow roots.

If your hydrangea is wilting or drooping, then this is most commonly a sign of stress due to drought or lack of moisture in the soil.

Related: How to Revive a Wilting Hydrangea Properly

This is usually due to hot and dry summer weather, but there could be other reasons. For example:

  • Limited Access to Water: Hydrangeas prefer to grow in the dappled light of a tree canopy as this replicates their natural growing conditions. If the hydrangea is surrounded by tree roots that are highly dependent on water (such as pine or beech trees), this could lead to dry soil.
  • Soil Drains Too Quickly: If the soil is sandy or stony with very little organic content (compost or leaf mold), then it can drain too quickly for the hydrangea roots to draw up moisture.
  • Rainfall Diverted: If the tree canopy is particularly dense, then the hydrangea may not benefit from rainfall as it can be intercepted and deflected by the trees abundant leaf coverage.
  • Over Exposed to Weather: Areas with high winds are also unfavorable for hydrangeas as they are accustomed to protection from wind (which saps the large leaves of moisture) from trees or buildings. Another reason for drooping Hydrangeas is the application of fertilizer. This is not due to soil moisture. Hydrangeas do not need to be fed a lot and are easy to care for if they are in good soil with lots of compost. Applying nitrogen fertilizer can stimulate lots of leaf growth. The stems of your Hydrangea may become soft and sappy, which can cause the flowers and leaves to droop.

How to Revive a Hydrangea That’s Drooping

Water the soil around the Hydrangea generously. Although some hydrangeas dont require additional water once they are established in warm climates, others must be watered regularly once a week to combat dry conditions.

If the soil is sandy, the hydrangea may need to be removed temporarily. The best soil conditions for hydrangeas are those that can retain water. This is why leaf mold and compost have a great capacity to do so.

Apply a mulch to your hydrangeas with a 1-inch layer of compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure. These three materials can help conserve water, add nutrients, improve soil structures, and prevent the sun from drying out the soil.

Scale back fertilizer use if you notice that your hydrangea is having a lot of leaves but very few flowers or a droopy appearance. You can give the soil a good soak to reduce the strength of liquid fertilizers, but it may be necessary to wait until next year to see the hydrangeas revival.

Hydrangeas thrive on moist soil rich in organic matter. It is therefore important to provide these conditions by preparing the soil well and watering as needed.

The frequency of watering will depend on many factors, such as the climate and soil type. It is best to test the soil to a depth of a few fingers to ensure that it is moist.

If the soil seems dry, give it a good soak to encourage roots to grow. It is important to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

Always give your hydrangeas a good soak, rather than watering only occasionally. This causes roots to reach the surface for water and makes them more vulnerable to drought.

Most species of hydrangea grow best in partial shade, with the dappled light of a tree canopy often providing the optimal balance of sun and shade.

Hydrangeas that are exposed to the full sun tend to dry faster, which can cause the plant to droop. So be careful when choosing a site for your planting.

Related: Why Is My Hydrangea Drooping?

Too Much Sun Can Impact Hydrangeas

Many hydrangea varieties grow best in partial shade, under the dappled sunlight of a tree canopy, or in the morning sun. In more arid areas, full sun for longer than 6 hours can burn sensitive leaves.

Sun can impact your hydrangea by scorching leaves. These can turn yellow and feel dry with a wilting appearance despite watering. 

Hydrangeas are adapted to growing under tree canopies in their native environment. Therefore they grow very well in gardens with some shade and protection from wind to protect the leaves.

Hydrangea leaves can become yellowed and scorched if they are exposed to full sunlight for more than 6 hours.

Too much sun can also dry out the soil, which causes hydrangeas flowers and leaves to wilt.

How to Tell Whether Your Hydrangea is Sunburnt 

It is easy to diagnose sunburn in hydrangeas. Leaves that have been exposed to direct sunlight should be the most affected. However, leaves that have been shaded by other plants should retain more of a green color even though they could be wilting.

Although some hydrangeas can grow in full sun, others will flower in partial shade. However, some plants can thrive in sunnier areas.

Related: Why Wont My Hydrangea Flower?

If your hydrangea spends most of its day in direct sunlight, you can either move it to a shaded area in your garden or add some shade to the plant.

The leaves that have been badly sunburnt are unlikely to recover, but the whole plant should survive. To encourage new growth, trim the damaged shoots. The hydrangea will recover.

Frost Damage Can Turn Hydrangea Leaves Black or Brown

The late frosts of the Fall or the early frosts of the Spring can cause damage to tender new growth. Frost damage usually results in the leaves and flowers of the hydrangeas turning black or brown suddenly.

Hydrangea leaves can become black or brown due to a variety of reasons. However, if the leaves have changed from a healthy green overnight, then it is likely that they have suffered frost damage.

Frost damage is most common in spring and affects tender, new growth. Larger, more established leaves are often unaffected as they are more accustomed to cold temperatures and more resilient.

Frost damage can still occur in Fall when there is an unusually sharp drop in temperature at night.

Hydrangeas are resilient plants. While frost damage can be severe, it can recover quickly with proper care. However, frost can cause damage to the flower buds, which can stop them from flowering.

How to Revive Hydrangeas With Frost Damage

To revive frost-damaged hydrangeas, you will need to prune back the damaged growth with a pair of pruners.

Avoid fertilizing hydrangeas in August, as this can encourage new, tender growth. Hydrangeas should be hardening off for winter to prepare for the colder temperatures.

Frost can cause damage to the flower buds of your Hydrangea, which can often stop flowering.

Once the flower buds are damaged, they are not likely to flower again. Prevention is better than cure.

If there is a late freeze in Spring, then you can protect your flower buds with horticultural wool the night before to prevent frost damage.

Frost damage is unlikely to cause hydrangea death. However, with patience and careful pruning, the plant should recover. It may not bloom properly until the next year.

Related: Why Your Hydrangea Is Not Blooming

Hydrangea Roots Can Burn From Over Fertilizing 

Hydrangeas do not need to be fed as often as roses. They do not need an annual feed.

Apply a mulch layer 1 inch thick around the Hydrangea. This will help retain moisture and add nutrients. (Compost or leaf mold are great choices). The Hydrangea should flourish.

Fertilizer can be used where hydrangeas are planted in sandy soil, which is nutrient-poor. The hydrangea has been placed in a container or pot where the roots have exhausted all the nutrients available.

In these cases, it is better to use an all-purpose well-balanced fertilizer (NPK) at half strength. Only apply it once in Spring.

Well-rotted manure is a good soil amendment, but it can also contain a lot of nitrogen. This can cause hydrangea roots to become brittle if mixed with soil after planting.

I recommend amending the soil with compost to avoid problems. Fresh manure can be particularly dangerous, so let it rot for at least a year before applying it to your garden.

If your hydrangea has been planted in soil with manure, then it is best to transplant it to a place with soil and compost. It should recover.

Reduce the amount of fertilizer and cut back on any brown flowers or leaves. To help the Hydrangea resuscitate, water the plant well.



Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)